I joked that I should pull up beside him at a stop sign and offer some advice. Kate didn't laugh (probably because she thought I really would). I was thinking something like...
"Hi, welcome to Washington! Please don't deny health coverage to millions of Americans."
"Senator, just remember to ask yourself each day, 'How many people will die as a result of this filibuster?'"
You know, casual stuff. I just wanted to welcome him to the neighborhood! Alas, he turned down a side street and we drove on to our movie.
But it got me thinking of Scott Brown's political future. He's up for re-election in 2012, in a presidential election cycle, when races tend to be nationalized. He could realistically be on a Republican party ticket headed by Sarah Palin, running against President Obama and a better Senate candidate than Martha Coakley. And remember this is Massachusetts, which gave 62% of its vote to Obama in 2008 and is the third most Democratic state by party identification.
The question is this: What is Scott Brown going to do between now and November 2012 to get a significant number of Massachusetts Democrats to vote for him in what is bound to be a highly partisan election?
- He might make a few significant breaks with his own party on high profile issues. I think he'll need some bill(s) to point at to show Massachusetts voters that he's not the typical national Republican. Shoot, at this point any position other than "filibuster everything" would be a significant break with his party.
- Or maybe he thinks, like his own party, that it's best not to get get pinned down actually supporting anything, so he'll just lay back, avoid making waves, and hope his fresh-face image and endorsements from Red Sox players can win again in 2012.
I just don't think the second option is going to be possible. Again: Massachusetts, a blood-sport election cycle, presumably a better Democratic opponent. I think he's going to have to either cast himself as a moderate by actually working with Democrats or else start shopping his name around as a VP candidate. Because, yeah he won in 2010 when the Republican-led congressional gridlock successfully directed the public's frustration toward Democrats. But that tactic is less likely to work in 2012 when Republicans will have to be proposing things, supporting things, and running on a record of something other than, "We prevented government from acting!"
Happy belated Valentine's Day, everyone.